I specialize in the literature and culture of China’s late imperial era, a period that roughly spans the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries. My research projects revolve around one central question: How does literature provide a platform that helps people cope with constant social changes?
The central research question has led me to examine literary representations of the human body and bodily experiences in three projects: The Clothing and Costuming Project, The Forensic Literature Project, and The Female Suicide Project. The first focuses on theatrical costuming as a way to negotiate ethnic, gender, and cultural identities at a time of dynastic upheaval; the second studies the human corpse as a site of both knowledge production and social interaction; the third explores literary representations of female suicide with a focus on dramatic materials.
Most of my research materials are situated in the context of late imperial China, but they are closely tied to China’s millennia-long history prior to and after that period. In examining those materials and their historical contexts, I have found myself constantly attracted to three issues: the material conditions and literary representations of personhood, prints and performances of drama, and the gender and ethnic dimensions of writing. Those interests have allowed me to explore widely beyond studies of Chinese literature.
After more than a decade studying and working in the United States, and having lived in New England, the Midwest, the South, I have developed a new interest in Asian diaspora and its ties to Asian American history. I am excited about that new adventure.